James Courtney wins season-opening V8 Supercars feature in Adelaide; ex-NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose 12th

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Following sprint race wins from defending series champion Jamie Whincup and Fabian Coulthard, James Courtney scored the feature win earlier this morning at the V8 Supercars’ season-opening event in Adelaide, Australia.

Courtney repelled a hard charge from Shane van Gisbergen in the final laps to win by three-quarters of a second. Courtney’s teammate, Garth Tander, rounded out the feature podium.

Thanks to his feature win and runner-up finish behind Coulthard in Race 2, Courtney took an early lead in the Supercars championship over Coulthard by a 17-point margin. Reigning V8 king Whincup leaves Adelaide fifth in the standings (42 points behind Courtney) after a win, a 21st in Race 2, and then a fourth in the feature.

As for ex-NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose, he finished 12th in the feature after cracking the Top-10 on the grid. He finished 16th in each of the preceding two races in Adelaide.

Ambrose steadily made up ground throughout the 250km feature, but a fuel strategy did not work out as well as he and his DJR Team Penske squad had hoped.

“We really did have a Top 10 car today, but our fuel strategy did not work as we put in more than we needed to and it tumbled us down the order a bit too far,” said Ambrose, who returns to V8 racing this season after a nine-year run in NASCAR. “The qualifying this morning was a big lift to me and the team. The DJR Team Penske boys were working hard and I felt the car was a better race car today, for sure.”

The V8s return to action in an non-points event during the March 13-15 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Albert Park in Melbourne. The next championship event is March 27-29 in Ambrose’s home state of Tasmania.

Champion Marc Marquez leads MotoGP into virtual world Sunday

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During its layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, MotoGP will become the latest racing series to enter the virtual world.

The MotoGP Virtual Race will be held at 9 a.m. ET Sunday, March 29 with 10 riders. It will be streamed on several platforms, including the Motorsports on NBC YouTube channel. Reigning series champion Marc Marquez is among the riders in the field.

The premier class of MotoGP has yet to hit the track this season as its opener was canceled and the next three races were postponed, including the Grand Prix of the Americas being moved from April 5 to Nov. 15.

Several other racing series have tried online racing in recent weeks.

IMSA held a “SuperSaturday at Sebring” March 21 in place of the postponed Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. NASCAR started its Pro Invitational Series last Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and will continue Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. IndyCar kicked off its six-race IndyCar iRacing Challenge with a Saturday race at Watkins Glen International that was won by Sage Karam.